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arts council/artist's contracts etc

updated fri 15 mar 02


Craig Martell on thu 14 mar 02

Sheron sez:
>There has already been an accident where the brackets gave way and the
>shelf fell, breaking all the pottery on it. The council will assume no
>responsibility and told the artist it was her loss. The risk that comes
>with displaying work. The council has the building insured and their
>"import" items are covered, but nothing on consignment is covered.

Hello Sheron:

Incredible! I'm always mystified by Arts Councils that don't take the work
of artists seriously and really don't support artists, local or
otherwise. My hardline opinion is that if these folks don't have a
serious change of heart and attitude, no one should consign anything to them.

When work is displayed on shelving that is in question and there's already
been a failure and reason to doubt the integrity of the shelving, there's
absolutely no way the Arts Council can pass this off to the artist as
"their problem" and "their risk". Granted, artists who are aware of this
shelving and the attitude of the Arts Council would be assuming a known
risk if they continued to show in this venue.

In Oregon, where I live, there is a law on the books that governs the sale
of Art on a consignment basis. The reason that this law exists is relative
to the attitude of the Arts Council that you mention. Anyway, the law is
strongly in favor of the artist and one of the provisions in the law is
that the gallery use "the highest degree of care" with regard to displaying
consigned work. If this provision is not followed, any lost, broken, or
stolen work is covered by the gallery and the artist is paid their
commision. The law is so well written that galleries don't even challenge
this. I'm always paid for lost work without even having to contest the
issue. I also have owned a gallery for about a year and I have to know and
follow this law from the other side of the fence too.

> After the acccident I again told them this system would not work. They
> in turn informed me that it was a donated freebie and that was that.

If the artist who lost the pottery to this shelving felt the need to hire a
lawyer and go after the Arts Council on this, I would be putting heavy
money on the artist. Displaying work on questionable shelving constitutes
negligence and lack of responsibility for the property of the artsist. The
gallery does not own the work. It is held "in trust" for the artist and is
the property of the artist until the artist is paid in full. The Arts
Council has admitted the necessity for compensation and protection with
regard to lost merchandise by covering the work that they own and this
opens the door even wider for the artist to collect. The Arts Council
should pay up without a fight if they are worth their salt and really
support artists. It's as simple as that.

regards, Craig Martell in Oregon